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Old 05-03-2015, 11:31 PM   #1
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Solar Q's for brand new MiniLite 2104S

Hi all,

I have a 2015 2104S that came with a port for plugging in a Zamp solar setup. I plugged in our Zamp 120W solar today and two hours later came back to a completely dead battery. When I used the alternate setup (battery clamps) my battery was fully charged again in two hours.

I have some general questions. I've emailed FR with these, too, but you all seem to know so very much. These are specific to the 2015 MiniLite 2104A, obviously:
  1. Is there something I need to be doing to activate that solar plugin port?
  2. What sort of solar setup do I need to be able to run the A/C while off the grid? (I did find some of the posts here about amp/hours, etc... I'm going to do math now, stand back.)
  3. Do I need to install an inverter or charge controller in order to simply be able to get power to the electrical outlets? None seem to work while just on battery.
  4. I am probably wrongly assuming that if the unit came with that solar port, it came with an inverter, aren't I?
Thanks everyone.

I will post pics of the pantry mod and basement mod I did this past weekend, thanks to the great ideas found here.

Polly, Sheryl, and two adventurous dogs, exploring the North American continent, one mile at a time.
2015 FR2104S
polrobin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2015, 04:44 PM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 631
An inverter converts 12V DC to 120V AC. Your unit likely did not come with one installed. Unless things are thought through in advance, and the limitations understood, an inverter will kill a battery very quickly.

Without an inverter, your 12V circuits run off the battery, and the 120V circuits only work when the camper is plugged into power.

To run air conditioning off a solar and battery bank is not practical. Let's say your air conditioner is rated at 1440 watts (look at the plate on your air conditioner for the actual numbers). That's 12 amps at 120 volts - or 120 amps at 12 volts. Each hour the air conditioning runs sucks 120 amp hours. Let's say you have a 120 AH battery (a large deep-cycle battery) that is fully charged. You can run the air conditioner a whole 30 minutes without exceeding the recommended 50% discharge point for your battery. So multiple batteries are needed. You will also need #2 gauge wire or bigger from battery to inverter and a 2000 watt inverter to do this.

Short duration, high power AC loads such as microwaves or long duration light loads (CPAPs, laptop computers, TVs) are more practical uses of an inverter/battery setup.

A converter is the opposite of an inverter - it changes 120V AC to 12V DC. Almost all campers have converters built in. When plugged into campground or house power, the converter charges the battery, and supplies power to the 12V circuits.

A controller is needed to appropriately charge batteries from solar panels. I don't know whether or not your camper had a controller already installed as part of the solar prep. A single 100 watt panel will most likely put about 40 AH into your battery on a good day (and night). Typically, 160 watts or more of solar panels is wanted for a dual battery setup to keep things going, assuming a TV for a couple of hours a day and/or the heater and its 12V fan.

Fred W
pgandw is offline   Reply With Quote

210, solar

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